Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Explore the beauty of Hidden Lake Gardens

Nestled in the scenic Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan, Hidden Lake Gardens presents a wonderful opportunity to spend the day relaxing, recreating and discovering. While the setting is secluded, the gardens are only about eight miles west of Tecumseh and easily accessible from M-50.


Owned and operated by Michigan State University under the division of land management, the park includes six miles of paved drives for automobile or bike access, 10 miles of hiking trails, a picturesque landscape and an incredible collection of flowers, trees and shrubs.

Hidden Lake

Here are some of the many highlights of Hidden Lake Gardens. 

Butterfly Bush

The Conservatory

The Conservatory is made up of three distinct zones. The Temperate House includes a huge assortment of beautiful flowering plants. 

Banana Plant Flower

The Tropical Dome, which is humid and warm, allows tropical trees, palms and fruit bearing plants such as bananas and limes to thrive throughout Michigan’s coldest winters.

Colorful plants in the Tropical Dome

The Arid Dome, which lacks humidity and moisture is perfectly suited for its collection of succulents and cacti.

Succulents in the Arid Dome

Bonsai Courtyard
An extraordinary display of miniature trees in the Bonsai Courtyard is accessible from the Conservatory.  Visitors can view the permanent display from May through October. 

Bonsai Courtyard

On Sunday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the gardens will hold its 5th annual event, The Art of Bonsai, featuring art inspired by bonsai, a bonsai show, vendors offering bonsai and pots and tools, and a lecture on how to get started in growing miniature trees. 

Daily admission applies and there is an additional $3 entry fee for the show. 

Hosta Hill

Touring the Grounds
Next to the lake, you’ll find The Benedict Hosta Collection, or Hosta Hill, which includes more than 800 varieties of the Hosta species. 

Woodland Drive is a winding scenic road through an oak and hickory forest. 

The Harper Collection of dwarf and rare conifers contains over 500 specimens. 

A picnic area is available to enjoy lunch or a snack in a covered shelter or under a shade tree. 

Potted succulents at the entrance to the Visitors Center

Stop by the Visitors Center and Gift Shop for more information about the park and trails and peruse the large assortment of garden-related gifts.

Water Lily

Hidden Lake Gardens is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through October 31. Winter hours begin November 1 and hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check the website for holiday closings. 

Admission is $3 per person, free for children age 2 and under (and free for your dog, on a leash, of course). The first Monday of every month is free (unless it is a holiday such as Labor Day).

Enjoy your visit!

Jerry’s Pub on the Lake
While in the area, take advantage of the early fall weather and grab a bite to eat at Jerry’s Pub on Wampler’s lake, located at 650 Egan Hwy. off M-12. 

A favorite among locals and visitors alike, Jerry’s outdoor deck overlooking the lake is the perfect spot to enjoy a burger, pizza or fish and chips. 

Jerry's Pub at Wampler's Lake

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

With barely a parking spot to be found, Market Street in Toledo was the place to be this past Saturday as folks of all ages came out in droves to take in the samples and smells at the downtown farmers market. Farmers’ booths were overflowing with piles of fresh corn, zucchini, peppers of all kinds, and all types of beautiful tomatoes. Why does something so wonderful have to signal the beginning of the end of summer? Sigh...  So, take advantage and make all the marvelous dishes you can while it’s all still in season.

Pasta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Serves 6

12 ounces cooked pasta such as fusilli, gemelli or farfalle, cooled

1 quart heirloom tomatoes, halved

Mini mozzarella cheese balls, halved

Fresh basil, thinly sliced

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

⅛ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.

Pour over pasta mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mexican Grilled Corn (Elote Asado)

Coated in a cream and rolled in crumbled cheese, Elote Asado is a popular way of serving grilled corn at festivals and markets in Mexico. Soaking the corn in their husks prior to grilling keeps them from burning. Plus the steam that’s produced inside the husks, keeps the corn moist.

Mexican Grilled Corn

Servings: 6
6 ears corn on the cob in husks
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 lime
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Cotija cheese or other crumbling salted cheese such as feta

In a large bowl or bucket filled with water, add corn in their husks. Cover with a plate to be sure the corn stays immersed in the water. Soak corn for about 1 hour.

Heat grill to medium. Place corn on grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning with tongs occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine crema, chili powder, juice from half of the lime, and two tablespoons of chopped cilantro. 

Remove corn from grill and allow to cool slightly. Remove husks and silk and brush corn with butter. Grill over high heat for another 5-8 minutes.

Remove corn and brush with crema mixture. Roll corn in cotija cheese and sprinkle with more chopped cilantro and lime juice.

(Recipe by Jennifer and Lynn Ruple) 

Monday, August 7, 2017

More to Dundee than meets the eye

Oftentimes, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Dundee, Mich. is Cabela’s, the behemoth retail outlet for all things outdoors, visible from U.S. Route 23. Located just 17 miles from the Ohio – Michigan border, this small town has realized significant growth since 2000 thanks to the influx of visitors to Cabela’s and the restaurants and hotels that serve them. However, there's much more to Dundee than meets the eye.

Ford Park

Ford Park East and West
Located in the historic district of Dundee is Ford Park East and West. The park extends from both sides of the River Raisin and M-50. Amenities include a scenic riverwalk connecting the two parks, blooming perennials, three picnic shelters, fishing access, and a canoe and boat launch area. Free parking is available on the west side of the park behind Swan Creek Candle Company.

Day lilies line the Riverwalk at Ford Park.

River Raisin Canoe Livery
Rent a kayak or a canoe and spend the day paddling down the River Raisin. Half-day and full-day trips are offered daily through Labor Day and on weekends only through October. Reservations are recommended. Call 734-529-9029 or visit raisinrivercanoelivery.com.

Relax on the banks of the River Raisin.

Dundee Farmers Market
If you happen to miss all the Saturday farmers markets in the area, don’t despair. You still have a chance to catch the Sunday market in historic downtown Dundee right in the triangle of Riley and Park Place. 

The market, which features locally grown produce, herbs and plants, homemade soaps and candles, honey and handcrafted items, is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through mid-October. On Sept. 17, the market will also include a Vintage/Antiques Street Market with antiques, vintage, and re-purposed items.

Dundee Farmers Market

River’s Edge Pizza Pub and Grille
A good choice for lunch or dinner is River’s Edge Pizza Pub and Grille located at 135 Riley St. The family-friendly restaurant is popular with visitors and locals alike and features hand tossed pizzas, slow-roasted ribs and pulled pork, mouth-watering burgers and pasta. 

River's Edge Pizza

Try a burger with fried jalape├▒os and cheddar, a Sicilian specialty pizza loaded with veggies and sans the sauce, or the summer special flatbread with basil pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes drizzled with balsamic glaze. A second restaurant is located at the Carrington Golf Club in Monroe County.

Swan Creek Candle Outlet

Swan Creek Candle Outlet
While in downtown, visit the Swan Creek Candle Outlet. The company’s flagship location was established in 1997 and is located at 129 Riley St. in three restored historic buildings. There you will find over 5,000 square feet of candles, candle -related accessories, antiques and coffee.

Michcato is the wine of the summer.

St. Julian Winery Tasting Room
Sample award-winning wines at the St. Julian Winery Tasting Room, located at 700 Freedom Ct. in Dundee. At nearly 100 years old, St. Julian Winery, headquartered in Paw Paw Michigan, is Michigan’s oldest winery offering reds, whites, pinks, sparkling and dessert wines, plus ciders and spirits.

Shop the large selection of wine-related gifts.

While sampling, peruse the large assortment of wine-related and food items in the gift shop. Hours are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tasting is $7 per person and includes six samples of your choice and a complimentary logo glass to take home. 

Diego enjoyed wading in the River Raisin.